Teaming up with rappers in the audio headset market is fast becoming the newest fad in the tech industry. To wit, Apple recently joined forces with Dr. Dre by purchasing Beats Music
for $3 billion, and now Intel
is collaborating with rapper 50 Cent and his SMS Audio company to jointly release a set of earphones with Intel's health monitoring technology baked in.
Intel's engineering and design teams have been working with SMS Audio for the past seven months to build the SMS Audio BioSport In-Ear Headphones. The Santa Clara chip maker designed the layout and circuitry, took charge of the system integration, and wrote the firmware that powers the features, such as being able to draw power from a smartphone so that the earbuds don't need a dedicated battery.
[SMS Audio was] very open to us and our suggestions," said Indira Nega, an Intel engineer and head of the design team that conceived the BioSport earphones. "They are a headset company and they understand sound very well so they had a ton of feedback on how it should sound, how the acoustic chambers should be. From how the device should function, what the data should be or how many bits of data there should be, they followed our lead."
The final result is something that looks like an SMS Audio product and is brimming with Intel technology. Built for runners and fitness fanatics, the BioSport earphones use biometric sensors to monitor your heart rate. It then communicates with the software on your smartphone to flip through music tracks and play songs to keep you where you want to be. For example, if it detects that your heart rate has fallen below the parameters you set for your workout, it may choose a faster, more up tempo song.